In a crowded market, cloud monitoring services expand

Credit: flickr/David A. Villa

It must be a sign that usage of infrastructure-as-a-service offerings are growing in popularity among enterprise users: There are two more announcements this week about services aimed at helping cloud users track and control usage.

Both announcements deviate from the pack a bit in a sign that the market for these services is getting crowded and players are seeking a unique spin in a bid to survive.

The first comes from Apptio, a company that offers what it calls "technology business management," or software that helps users manage the cost of their IT investments. It is launching Cloud Express, a service that lets users view their spend and usage of AWS, Rackspace and Azure. It displays unused instances and storage and makes recommendations about whether signing up for AWS reserved instances would save money.

Missing at launch: the ability for multiple people from an organization to sign into the same Cloud Express account as a way to track spending across a business. Also, Apptio lets users input the total bill for other services like Heroku and Salesforce but doesn't track those offerings. Allowing users to input that information is also a way for Apptio to figure out what services users want tracked, Michael Wasser, cloud architect at Apptio, said. That will help the company prioritize which services to add support for in the future, he said.

I've seen cloud monitoring services with more bells and whistles. But there are a couple things that set Cloud Express apart. The first is that the plan is for it to remain free, for users of all sizes. Apptio has already worked with some of the largest AWS customers to try it out, Wasser said. But the service works for smaller users too, he said.

Also, the bigger idea is for users of Apptio's flagship products to be able to tie in cloud monitoring information from Cloud Express. Apptio is already working with some customers on pulling data from Cloud Express into the Apptio business management software.

Apptio hopes that CIOs will be able to encourage everyone using cloud services in an organization to use Cloud Express so that they'll be able to get a complete view of cloud spend in the business.

That kind of integration of cloud tracking with other business management tools reminds me of the second related announcement this week: a partnership between Cloudyn and Scalr. Like Cloud Express, Cloudyn helps users track cloud expenses and recommends changes that can cut costs. It's so far only available to AWS users -- with Rackspace in beta -- but offers a number of useful features, including notifications.

This week, Cloudyn and Scalr, which offers cloud automation software, are announcing that they are integrating their services into their respective products. The idea is to make it easier for users to take recommendations made by Cloudyn.

Currently, when Cloudyn recommends that a user turn off servers, add storage or sign up for AWS reserved instances, users must leave Cloudyn, enter the AWS console and make the changes. With the integration, users will have the option to make the change from within Cloudyn, using Scalr's tools.

The reverse is also possible. Scalr customers can add Cloudyn's functionality to their Scalr dashboard to view the efficiency of their AWS usage.

The result is a useful combination of analytics information with management.

My bet is that we'll see a lot more of the combinations made this week so that end users will get more complete cloud management from single tools.

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